Ghost Eaters

A Novel

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Pub Date 20 Sep 2022 | Archive Date Not set

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“A Gothic-punk graveyard tale about what haunts history and what haunts the human soul. An addicting read that draws you into its descent from the first page.”—Chuck Wendig, New York Times best-selling author of The Book of Accidents

For fans of Riley Sager and Paul Tremblay, a terrifying supernatural page-turner that explores ghosts, grief, and god complexes.

Ever since their on-again, off-again college romance, Erin hasn’t been able to set a single boundary with charismatic but reckless Silas, who’s been chasing the next big high since graduation. When he texts her to spring him out of rehab, she knows enough is enough. She’s ready to start a career, make new friends, and meet a great guy—even if that means cutting Silas off. But when Silas turns up dead from an overdose, Erin’s world falls apart.
When Erin learns that Silas discovered a drug that allowed him to see the dead, she doesn’t believe it’s real but agrees to a pill-popping “séance” to ease her guilt and pain. When she steps back into the real world, she starts to see ghosts from her Southern hometown’s bloody and brutal past everywhere. Are the effects pharmacological or something more sinister? And will Erin be able to shut the Pandora’s box of horrors she’s opened?
With propulsive momentum, bone-chilling scares, and dark meditations on the weight of history, this Southern horror will make you think twice about opening doors to the unknown.

“A Gothic-punk graveyard tale about what haunts history and what haunts the human soul. An addicting read that draws you into its descent from the first page.”—Chuck Wendig, New York Times ...

Advance Praise

Ghost Eaters is one of those rare horror novels that have everything: a dash of humor, real life demons, complex characters, a heavy dose of the supernatural, and the kind of ending you never forget. This is high-grade horror, and Clay McLeod Chapman is the real deal.”—Gabino Iglesias, author of The Devil Takes You Home

“Clay McLeod Chapman is a weaver of nightmares and Ghost Eaters is his darkest creation yet. A non-stop thrill ride, all you can do is strap in and prepare to be haunted. Chapman is the 21st century’s Richard Matheson. He’s that good.”—Richard Chizmar, New York Times best-selling author of Chasing the Boogeyman

"Clay McLeod Chapman's guided tour of a shroom-and-gloom ghost world, where everyone is addicted to death, reads like a scared straight program that horrifies you into choosing life."—Grady Hendrix, New York Times best-selling author of The Final Girl Support Group

“A terrifying meditation of the horrors of modern life and our collective fixation with death. Clay McLeod Chapman’s Ghost Eaters promises to fix what ails you, existentially speaking. But be warned: follow Chapman down this rabbit hole and you will see dead people.” --Alma Katsu, author of The Fervor

"Richly observed, thoroughly entertaining, and incredibly surprising, Ghost Eaters will be the horror novel of 2022 to read. A dark, gripping tale that is by turns snarky, horrifying, and brutal—this book is as good as modern horror gets."John Hornor Jacobs, author of A Lush and Seething Hell

"A quintessential ghost story with a fresh, trippy twist. Chapman weaves hair-raising, goosebump-inducing horror through a sharp exploration of loss, addiction, and grim history. Haunting guaranteed."—Rachel Harrison, author of Cackle and The Return

“Clay McLeod Chapman’s Ghost Eaters is a grounded and very scary story of addiction, guilt and other (more literal) angry ghosts, set in a landscape rich with layers of haunted history. Highly recommended.”Trever Henderson, award-winning illustrator

"Clay McLeod Chapman is one of my favorite writers. His books are always white-knuckle reads—blazingly original, gorgeously written, and profoundly chilling."Riley Sager, New York Times best-selling author of Survive the Night

Ghost Eaters is one of those rare horror novels that have everything: a dash of humor, real life demons, complex characters, a heavy dose of the supernatural, and the kind of ending you never...

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ISBN 9781683692171
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Featured Reviews

GHOST-EATERS is Literary Horror from acclaimed and prolific author Clay McLeod Chapman. [Release 2022] A keen revelation of the nature of addiction, in which obsession as a part of personal psychology extends far beyond the expected types [drugs and other controlled substances], GHOST-EATERS carefully peels back the layers to examine what lies deep within the core of these characters.

The novel also takes a rather unique approach to Afterlife. Caution: there is not a lot of hope here, other than the hope of the human spirit and human ingenuity. Its Afterlife is depressing and implacable. Also, set in Richmond, Virginia, once the Confederate Capital and site of a couple of centuries of Slavery plus Civil War battlefields, Revenants are numerous, unavoidable, hungry. So added to the Horror and despair is thought of all those painful, horrifying, backstories.

GHOST-EATERS deserves a wide audience, and will appeal to discerning readers of Horror.

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Wow…this book was so f***ed up, but also so good. I did have a hard time getting into but once I was in, I was in! This book was equal amounts creepy and thought provoking. I think for anyone who has ever lost someone, you can get lost and pulled into the draw of this drug. Some parts of this book were so disturbing, but I still couldn’t stop. Really great book!

Thank you so much to the author and the publisher for letting me have an advance read. I’m looking forward to adding this one to my collection and seeing others reactions! Great novel to release around Halloween!

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In recent years Clay McLeod Chapman has been on a fine run of form, his latest Ghost Eaters following the excellent The Remaking (2019) and the even better, Whisper Down the Lane (2021) which was one of the literary highlights of the year. All three are great books in their own right, but what is particularly impressive is the fact that they are uniquely distinct from each other with Chapman quietly building an impressive back-catalogue, being equally comfortable writing about the real-life horror of the Satanic Panic era as he is supernatural curses or life after death.

Ghost Eaters cleverly revolves around the theme of addiction in a physical, allegorical and supernatural sense via a drug which allows the users to see ghosts. Before we get to the ghost part, it is clear that main character Erin is in many ways addicted to Silas whom she has had an on-off relationship with through college and slightly beyond. The four main characters are of the age when college is in the taillights behind them and they should be targeting their first professional job in the big bad world. However, things have not worked out that way as Silas is a drug addict and he regularly uses Erin as his safety net as he repeatedly flunks out of rehab for the umpteenth time. Much of Erin’s thought process is connected to Silas and what he is doing, with the novel beautifully capturing how directionless those in their early twenties often feel, but at the same time think they know everything and are invincible (whilst still sponging from their parents).

Erin narrates the novel and although some readers might find her dependency and lack of boundaries regarding Silas to be frustrating, but it is pivotal to the direction the plot heads into. Early in the novel the young woman, like any drug addict, swears off Silas for what she believes to be the final time, only for him to die from an overdose just as she is about to start a new job. Wracked with guilt and pain she misses the funeral, only for things to take a much darker turn when she meets up with her two other old mutual friends with Silas, Tobias and Amara.

There are considerable levels of pain and guilt on offer in Ghost Eaters which is an incredibly dark book and is a druggie juiced up version of the age-old horror trope of attempting to bring a loved one back to life (even though you know you really shouldn’t, as no good can ever come out of it). Toby tells Erin that Silas discovered a drug which allowed him to see the dead, although she does not really believe him, agrees to a séance where the four take the remainder of the drug. This was a terrific sequence which was equally trippy and freaky, with Erin believing she has contacted Silas. Toby says they need to exercise caution, but Erin wants more (spot the addict) and the plot begins to shift through the years in some very clever directions.

In a round about way the book asks the reader how far they would go in order to get the ultimate kick or high? If heroin or ecstasy does not do the job then the drug on offer in this novel provides something more surreal than even the strongest acid could do! And what if lots of people started to take it? I also loved the clever direction the plot moves into when the use of the drug ‘ghost’ expands beyond the close circle of friends.

Ghost Eaters is a fine example of Southern Gothic horror literature, throws in a fair wedge of graphic body horror and includes haunting sequences which are a million miles away from Ghostbusters. However, these sequences are also very sad as the ghost are searching for something they do not have, but which becomes apparent as the plot moves on. The location of Richmond Virginia was also terrific and key to the story, as due to the Civil War and the city’s Confederate history there were more ghosts around than most other places. The sequence when Erin has her first day at her new job (not long after taking the drug) was a killer as the office was littered with ghosts. Freaking out, her new colleagues thought it was first day jitters!

The manner in which events spiralled was very nicely handled, even if things came together rather too neatly in the end, it was still a first rate read. Ghost Eaters expertly plucks at the raw nerves of the grieving process and hints at the bleakest afterlife imaginable. Remember kids, if offered drugs JUST SAY NO (especially ones which offer glimpses of what lies beyond the veil).

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A must read for horror fans! This was one seriously creepy book that I am going to have a hard time getting those images out of my head. I also loved the twist on ghosts and that cover!

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(Reviewed for Library Journal)
'Silas was a ghost long before he passed away'

"Ghost Eaters" starts off with four young adults in a Richmond, Virginia cemetery who are indulging in substances, mostly content in their drug-fuelled hazes. Their leader of sorts, Silas, leads them to a mausoleum for a seance. What he doesn't bank on is actual ghosts showing up--or at least that's what the protagonist, his girlfriend Erin, sees. A bizarre and disturbing sex scene unfolds. When next we see Erin, she's having dinner with a guy, Tanner, in a posh and hipsterish restaurant. She has dated plenty of men who enjoy the gentility and Civil War vibe. She keeps getting calls from Silas. Things get worse from there, until they come to a head. He leaves Erin with a dying wish. They've driven someplace resting over old Civil War battlefield; a town that hosted Klan rallies. The group of friends are now doing the sceance to try to draw Silas out. Within an unreliable narrator to a tee, things unfold in peril.To say that what Erin and her group of friends unleash is not at all what they were expecting doesn't begin to cover the chain of events that follow. The plot escalates as Erin's hauntings worsen with each move forward.

This isn't just one or two quaint ghosts. This is centuries of ghosts and revenants that are suddenly at every corner where Erin goes. Although the Powhatan people would have historically been buried in what's now eastern Virginia, the author could have handled what is a very overdone and harmful trope in horror of "Native American" burial grounds and taken things in a more culturally conscious direction. The Silas haunting are disturbing to say the least.

With some aspects of the film "Flatliners" as well as the forthcoming "Bodies Bodies Bodies" minus the humour aspects, the narrative of "Ghost Eaters" comes to a head with the reader understanding that Ghost has so much more of a morbid meaning in this addiction horror tale.

Readalikes: the Asylum series by Madeleine Roux, The Wide Carnivorous Sky by John Langan, Black Chalk
By Christopher J. Yates, and Never Saw me Coming by Vera Kurian

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Here’s a story about a dead addict ex-boyfriend who left behind the key to seeing ghosts: a highly addictive drug. I didn’t love the main character, but she was absolutely perfect for this story, which is a great mix of horrifying and thought-provoking. She’s just pathetic (maybe “sad” is a better word) enough to make it work. The story also plays off one of my favorite tropes - are they really seeing ghosts or are they just on drugs? The book gets disturbing pretty early and then doesn’t let up for the rest of the book. It’s legitimately terrifying and unnerving for 75% of the book. That’s how well the premise works. Definitely a must-read this year.

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A dark and disturbing story of pain, grief, and addiction that absolutely delivers on the scares. When a highly addictive drug that supposedly allows the user to make contact and interact with ghosts hits the streets of Richmond, VA, our protagonist Erin pursues this terrifying high despite the series of horrific visions and revenants that she experiences. Chasing after the spirit of a recently-departed friend, Erin risks everything to make contact even as things become more unsettled and horrific.

This is a truly scary book that delivers on everything it promises, and grants an unflinching perspective of someone who has been in an unhealthy relationship who then basically falls apart under the influence of powerful drugs, guilt, and pain which might be difficult for some readers to accept.

An easy recommendation to horror fans, with a story that leaves a lot to think about after you've finished reading.

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Because I got an advance copy from Netgalley I feel honor bound to write a review. However, this book has left me speechless- in the best way. I was totally immersed in every aspect of this novel- the characters, the addictions, and the atmosphere. It is an experience.

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GHOST EATERS is an absolute masterpiece. From the opening sequence in the graveyard, to a world irrevocably changed by the end, Clay McCleod Chapman drags you kicking and screaming through guilt and depravity.

The phrase "wanna get haunted" is used frequently in the book, but it's not just a phrase. It's the truth. This book will HAUNT you, and I will not rest until the whole world is haunted.

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